I felt so proud watching on TV the Indian contingent leading the Bastille Day parade in
I wonder how many of the millions who watched the parade on July 14 knew the historic significance of the Indian soldiers’ presence in
In the First World War the Indians fought mostly in Western Europe and the
About 140,000 Indian troops – 90,000 on the front line and the rest auxiliary - fought in
The British Indian Army won 13,000 medals in the Great War. That included 12 Victoria Crosses. (The Second World War tally was 30 Victoria Crosses.) But the toll was high. The estimates of Indian sepoys who died or were missing in action on the Western Front differ from 48,000 to 65,000. There are memorials for them at several locations in
What drove those brave men to fight far from home for a cause which may not have been very clear in their minds? The Indian National Congress was supporting the British war effort on the conviction that it was the best bet for
In this context an article,
Sikh machine gunners at Flanders.
Perhaps the most famous poem of that war is In Flanders Fields by a Canadian, Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918). Here is a quote from it, which is relevant to the Indian soldiers who died there too:
‘We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
Poppies grow on those fields now. Do those flowers represent the dead soldiers?
(Photos from Wikimedia Commons.)
THE DEAD AND THE LIVING DEAD. (Short Story)